They say the key is to talk to as many people as possible and to chase all potential sources of funding. It is certainly true that friends can be an inestimable resource, with all their expertise that you never previously understood or bothered to take notice of. A comprehensive business plan is essential, which can be drawn up with help from specialist services, and should be checked by an accountant (which can often be negotiated for free on the basis of possible future instruction). A successful business plan will depend on market research, or at least its credibility will.
Funding can come from friends, family, banks, business 'angels' or venture capitalists. To professional lenders you are going to have to display thorough research into your market and communicate quickly and clearly what your proposal is and what the benefits are. Having your business at its optimum state, having added as much value as possible yourself through other sources, means you can sell equity to investors at a higher price.
Venture capital firms are tending to concentrate on their own portfolios, and prefer to leave early-stage funding to business angels, concentrating on later stage businesses in these economic times. The British Business Angels Association (see below) lists networks and is the "only trade association dedicated to promoting angel investing and supporting early-stage investment in the UK". Sponsored by the Government and a number of names from the early stage industry, it provides guidance and links for both start-ups and investors. Angels are often enthusiasts, there to bring their hands-on expertise and contacts to the table as well as their investment. There are nearly 30 professional networks of angels in the UK.
Perhaps some of the best pointers on starting a business are provided by those who have already set up on their own. See what ex-lawyers have gone on to do in their own businesses under the career changer profiles below.
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